Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Spiritual Psalter from the works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian


Woe is me, to what judgement will I be subject, and of what disgrace am I worthy! My inner self is not like my outward appearance: I talk about how to free oneself from the passions, but day and night I myself think about disgraceful passions. I conduct discussions about purity, but myself, I indulge in indecent behavior.

Alas! What trials await me? The truth is that I bear the image of righteousness, but lack its capacity. What face shall I who am guilty of such indecency wear when I approach the Lord god Who knows the secrets of my heart? When I stand in prayer, I am afraid that fire will descend from heaven and burn me up, as it happened in the desert that there came out a fire from the Lord that consumed the men who offered strange incense.

What can I expect, I who am weighed down with such a heavy burden of sin? My heart is consumed with fire, my mind is clouded, righteous thoughts have failed in me: like a dog do I ever return to my own vomit.

I have no boldness before Him Who will try my heart and inner workings. I have no clean thoughts, no tears while praying. Although I sigh and fall prostrate on my shame-filled face and beat my chest--this is a dwelling place of passions, a sweatshop of evil thoughts.

Thou knowest, O Lord, my passions hidden in darkness; the sores of my soul are known to Thee. Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed. If Thou wilt not build the house of my soul, I labor in vain trying to build it myself.

It is true that sometimes I prepare myself to do battle with the passions when they war against me; but the evil wiles of the serpent paralyze the efforts of my soul with sensuality and I yield to them. Though no one visibly ties my hands, the invisible passions drag me away like a captive.

O Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart, that I might rightly recognize the deceit and the malice of the passions. May thy grace shield me, that I might be able to stand firm and resist, having girded my loins with courage.

Once Thou, O Lord, didst provide save passage through the impassable sea for Thy people. Thou8 gavest Thy people who thirsted water out of a hard rock. Thou alone, according to Thy grace, didst save the one who fell in with thieves. Have mercy upon me as well, for I have also fallen into the hands of thieves and, like a captive, I am bound by wicked thoughts.

No one is strong enough to heal the passionate temperament of my soul except Thou, O Lord, Who knowest the depths of my soul. Condescend and save me by Thy kindness.


Purify me with Thy grace, O kindhearted Father. Wipe away my stains with Thine all-cleansing hyssop and heal my sores, that I might give thanks to Thy grace!

I have fallen: raise me up and strengthen me, O Lord; for Thou raisest up all who have fallen. Stretch forth Thine hand to me and enliven me once again by Thy compassion!

The adversary has deceived me; he has stripped me of my garment and stolen it away. Because of him I remain fruitless and must go to the judgment entirely naked. May Thy mercy be for me a robe in the day of judgement!

What great fear there will be in the day of judgement when every man gives an account of his deeds, thoughts, and even of every time he beckoned with his eyes. Vindicate me on that day, O my Judge, for though I am guilty I wish to repent.

Our hearts will be tormented and suffer exceedingly when all that aroused our desire is reviewed, when every man stands naked and will be called to answer for himself.

On that day, woe to the man who, like me, has committed many transgressions, who has sinned and concealed his sins, that he might escape shame in this world! fingers will be pointed at him in the day of judgement.

My transgressions have multiplied, my days have passed by and vanished; the end is approaching, but there is not repentance to be found in me. If compassion finds no place for me, woe is me in the day of judgement!

Blessed is the man who has labored some in this world, for he will inherit the kingdom in the intransient world to come. In return for small labors, he will acquire a great inheritance.

At Thy judgement, O our Lord, there will be no partiality. Every man will receive what he deserves. He who has done good deeds will receive the kingdom, and he who has done wicked deeds will receive torment.

Open to me the door of Thy compassion, O Hope of the penitent, and stretch forth to me Thine healing hand to bandage my scabs and mend my sores.

My will refuses to follow Thy will. Do Thou Thyself subdue me to Thy will, that I might thereby receive salvation and glorify Thy will, for it is kind to the penitent.

Mercifully receive my prayer to make peace between me and Thee; and, according to Thy kindness, grant me life in Thy coming. Then the evil one will be ashamed when he sees that Thy truth has pardoned me.


When you see life's pleasures, beware that they might not distract you, for they conceal death's snares. Likewise a fisherman casts not his hook to no purpose.

As bait for his hook, the enemy uses the delusion of sensuality to arouse desire, that he might thereby catch men's souls and subject them to himself.

A soul which has been caught to serve the enemy's will then serves as a snare for other souls, for it conceals the grief of sin with its apparent delight.

while exercising the virtues, be not dejected by the labors involved, for there can be no virtue without labor.

While laboring, lift up the eye of your soul and, as you contemplate that joy which is on high, you will not shrink from any task.

The labors of the righteous cultivate the fruit of life, but the labors of sinners are filled with ruin. Join yourself to the former and withdraw from the latter; avoid empty labors that do not produce good fruit.

Suffer for God the sorrows of the present life and your hope in the saints will not be in vain.

Those who labor for the vain things in life strive to make those who labor for God's sake stumble, that they might not be confronted with examples that accuse their conscience; but in so doing the only embellish the crowns of conscientious laborers.

Maintain an humble attitude, that you might not lose the fruits of good works. If you cast them away, you will be numbered with those who labor in vain.

Do you want to become a guardian of your soul? Withdraw from every place to a save harbor, that sensual thoughts might not steal aboard and load your ships.

If you want your harbor to be save, fence it off with ramparts that cannot be shaken by the storm of passions; otherwise, your harbor will become the site of your downfall.

If passionate words find a place in a soul, they drag it as if by hooks into evil, into the pit of ruin.

Avoid soul-corrupting gatherings and your soul will every enjoy peace.


Thanks are due to the good One who has saved our race from enslavement to the devil and from death, and has made peace between us and Thy lofty Truth, which we offended by our deceit.

Blessed is the kindhearted One who has sought us out, though we did not seek Him, who has rejoiced at our salvation and has given us an image of how we have gone astray and been returned, in the parable of the lost sheep.

the Heir and Son cried out and returned our nature which had gone astray; He died and rose again and gladdened the hosts of spirits by returning us and bringing us to repentance.

Inexpressibly great is the love shown by the Lover of mankind; for from our race He chose an Intercessor and through Him made peace between the world and His greatness.

God performed a new miracle in man, great for us and for all creation. For He made our body a temple, and filled it with that which is venerated by all.

Come, O earthly and heavenly beings, wonder and be amazed at this great bestowal of dignity, for our race has been lifted to the immeasurable height of the Divinity.

May heaven and earth and all that is within them sing praises with us to the One Who has magnified our race, for He has renewed His image in us, blotted out our sins, given us His name, and subjected all things to us.

He Who raised us up above all things is deserving of all manner of praise from those who honor Him. Let us all with one voice sing praise to Him and to the Father Who sent Him and to the Holy Spirit.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Blessed is He Who through His good will chose to humiliate Himself and betrothed the holy Church to Himself!

Thy light, O Jesus our Lord, has shone out over creation and scattered the darkness of error. May Thy light shine now in our souls also, O Jesus our King Who art the true light.

Deliver us from all the ruinous thoughts that trouble our souls. Then will we praise Thee with a pure mind, O Son of the unseen Father, for Thou art the true light.

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